Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Peace On Earth

We enjoyed a truly blessed Christmas here in Georgia (even a miraculous snowfall!), yet for all the talk about peace on earth that the season brings, I am left pondering how we have come so far from it. The discord spread throughout the world seems almost overwhelming at times. Wars are fought, genocides are committed and gang activity seems at an all time high. I believe peace is more than an idea, but how do we accomplish this on a global level?

One of my nephews, home on leave for Christmas from his job as a medic in Iraq, brought back some rather sobering information. He signed up for the military specifically to be a medic--a role where he would take care of people instead of kill them. You would think he would be allowed to do his job and help his fallen comrades relatively unscathed, but this is not the case. Medics are second only to gunners on the snipers' attack list. I can understand why they would want to take out the gunners first, but why the medics? Is their level of hatred so strong they do not want to see anyone helped?

What is it about places like Iraq that encourage such hatred and violence? Why do people choose to join gangs and live as outlaws? I believe the answer to all these questions is quite simple: humans have a basic need for love and when that is in short supply they try to fill the hole up with what is available. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, a religion that promises a better life in heaven and that makes them part of a community in the present is often very attractive. Here in America, where gangs are quite prevalent, people who join them often lack strong family support. The gang then becomes their replacement family. The bottom line is, we are all searching for love. When it is not there, we fill it with other things to try to plug up that emptiness.

So what can we do to promote peace on earth? We help take care of the needs of those around us. We can donate our time, our resources, ourselves to help people fill that basic need for love. It doesn't have to be big. It just needs to be done. Peace on earth begins in the heart. Peace on earth begins with you and me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Once again, I am suffering from a round of holiday depression. There is one difference this year though. I have developed some better coping skills lately, which I have been using to combat this years blues. Call it my own variation of Byron Katie's "The Work" (Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life) or Wayne Dyer's Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits, but it really has been a process of questioning my own beliefs and uncovering the truth behind my feelings. It's boiled down to a question of what is the reality behind my holiday expectations.

I grew up in a Christian home which celebrated Christmas the traditional American way. The holidays were a time of decorating the tree, setting up the nativity set, baking cookies and listening to and singing Christmas carols. Most years we would celebrate with extended family--grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, and overall it was a very joyous occasion. Presents, too, were a big deal. There was a lot of secrecy and planning that went into it all (of course, the early days were also filled with visits to Santa and wondering if he would bring that special wished-for gift). My parents did a great job of making my early Christmas memories very fond ones.

When my kids were little--even while I was a single mom--Christmas was still pretty big for me. I loved playing Santa and trying to hide the Santa gifts from my kids well enough they never found out I was Santa until they were older. I would start saving for Christmas early in those days because I wanted to give my children the same sort of magical memories I had growing up. My kids still have favorite Christmas sweets they request every year.

It has only been the more recent "middle-aged" years Christmas has begun to be a drag for me. As my children are too old for Santa, the planning and plotting has gone by the wayside. Making cookies seems to tucker me out more than it used to, and the rush of working and trying to get everything done is frustrating. On top of all that, no one seems to appreciate what effort I do manage to put into it. This does not motivate me to do more.

Still, there are a few things I know. When you take away all the hype of what Christmas is "supposed" to be, you realize it is natural for the work you put into it to wear you out and wear you down. If everybody doesn't get that special present or if you don't have time to make that special cookie, it's okay. They won't die, and they will probably still  be happy with what they get. There are other years and other occasions to accomplish those things. Let yourself off the hook! Focus on relaxing, on relationships, on enjoying the season of giving. Life really is too short to become upset over the little things. Often, it is our expecatations that bring us down much more than the actual events. Do what you can, enjoy what you've done and then let it go. Happiness or sadness is your choice. Making sure your expectations are realistic will make happiness that much easier to achieve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To Master Conflict

I had the most amazing experience at work this evening--one that would have left me upset and nervous only a few short months ago but today has made me feel wonderfully grateful and strong. Tonight, I know that one of the lessons I had written about previously in this blog (It Isn't About You!, Sept. 15, 2010) has been truly incorporated into my being. I was able to handle a conflict situation with a grace and understanding, truly diffusing it in a non-confrontational way. The thrill of knowing I was acting and not reacting filled me with such a peace. I knew beyond doubt I had mastered this conflict.

I've been working at a department store. Anyone who has ever worked in a retail environment knows there are just some customers that are hard to deal with. Most of the time I don't even notice them--mainly because I can usually address their issues and make them feel better. Tonight, this wasn't true. I was processing a return for this customer, and in my haste I asked her to sign the return receipt. Most of them have to be signed, so it has become habit for me to ask everyone for it. Unfortunately, this one truly didn't need to be signed (at this point in time, I'm still new enough in the job I don't know the difference). The customer immediately went off on me, saying I was not treating her like every other customer, that I was singling her out because of who she was, etc. etc. I apologized for my error and did try to explain I was still new in the position. However, she was not listening to me at that point. While I could have been angry or upset with her, I chose not to be because I could see from her reaction that she had been hurt somehow in the past. I knew she had been wrongly accused of something and she was in a place in life where she was going to make sure it didn't happen again. She was reacting from her past pain. I was able to understand that and move toward her with compassion. While I can't say the customer was happy when she left, I will say she did reluctantly wish me a "Merry Christmas" after I had issued a sincere, "Thank you for shopping with us and Merry Christmas!"

The incident ironically left my coworkers and even a few customers upset. The customers at the register next to me told me I had done a great job. So did my coworkers. One of the younger ones even said, "I don't know how you did that. I would have been in tears." The thing is, I viewed the whole incident with a different lens, and it made a huge impact on the way I dealt with it.

While I can't say I will react this well to every conflict that comes up, I can say I know the tools are there. I truly do understand that the attacks of others upon me are not about me but about their own internal struggles. I am well on my way toward mastering conflict, and I am overwhelmingly thankful.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Learning Resilience

Something amazing has happened! I've acquired a new tool in the toolbox of life which makes it that much easier to cope with any problem I seem to have. This tool helps me see my problems in a whole new light--the light of opportunity. I am no longer afraid of mistakes. They have become my friends as I choose to understand mistakes are not bad things because of the growth they produce.

I used to be extremely perfectionistic. I was a rule-follower of the highest calliber so that I could avoid the conflicts in life. As I was quite good at it, this stategy usually worked well for me. Well, at least until I encountered an unavoidable problem. At that point, I would beat myself up a bit and try to figure out ways to avoid the conflict in the future. Then I would try to ignore it altogether. If I couldn't ignore the problem I would often end up in a state of learned helplessness until someone else kick-started me into activity. Needless to say, my coping skills were seriously flawed and ineffective.

Because I have taken time lately to review the experiences of my life, I have made a very important discovery. The times I was faced with life's biggest challenges were my times of highest learning and growth. Challenging experiences brought me so much more than the routine ones. Because I now understand this, I look at problems in a whole new light. Problems are not pitfalls, but opportunities. The fear I used to feel in life is being replaced by joy as I accept and even look forward to these new opportunities for growth. I am learning resilience, and my life will never be the same.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recognizing Patterns

Caution: the content of this post contains adult topics and may not be suitable for everyone.

They say recognizing the problem is halfway to solving it. What we often fail to realize is that many of our problems are habitual patterns in our set of learned behaviors. Ever faced a problem where you've said something like, "Why do I keep making this mistake over and over again?" (This is usually the same problem with a different set of variables.) It's because you are making the same behavior choices over and over again. Until you begin to recognize the pattern, you will very likely never consciously change it. In order to become the powerful creator of your life you were meant to be, you need to be able to make informed, conscious decisions.

Years ago when I worked in a group home with emotionally disturbed children, I worked with a young girl who had been molested by several of her mom's boyfriends. At the time I was still quite young and naive, but I did have the sense to recognize the dysfunctional pattern this mother had--one where she was apparently attracted to molesters. (I have since come to understand she was probably molested herself and caught in this cycle of abuse through learned behavior.) Because this pattern was so ingrained in the mother, she eventually lost custody of her daughter because the courts deemed she could not keep her daughter safe. Fortunately, the daughter was getting help and ended up with a terrific adoptive family. I don't know if the mother ever got the help she needed. Unfortately, this story is not that uncommon.

One of my own dysfunctional patterns was the result of wanting to help others. While I wouldn't call my first marriage a bad one, it was one where I did all the giving and my husband did all the taking. The marriage fell apart when I had small children to take care of and he was no longer my first priority. In the 10+ years I spent as a single mom, I had two brief relationships before meeting my current husband. Fortunately, I was able to recognize my old pattern within those two relationships relatively quickly and I was able to let them go without much trauma. My current husband is a giver like me. I have to admit, it was uncomfortable for me when we first began dating because I was not used to being catered to. Still, I understood that I deserved to get what I put out in the universe. I changed my pattern and solved that problem.

When you get to a place of conflict in your life, ask yourself a few key questions. Have I been to this place before (maybe with different people or in a different place)? What do I need to do differently to change the outcome next time?  Then, don't beat yourself up. Life is a process of making mistakes that ultimately lead to understanding and growth. It is in recognizing our dysfunctional patterns we are able to make the changes necessary to learn from this human experience.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Forgiveness Really Does

I see a great deal of unforgiveness in the world today, and I have to confess it really bothers me. It isn't just because I can sense the anger and resentment bubbling just below the surface of the people it affects. It isn't because I believe the unforgiven to be riddled with guilt (although sometimes they are). What bothers me most about unforgiveness is the fact that the very act keeps the unforgiver in a perpetual state of anger and resentment. To me, it's a self-made prison--a form of hell on earth.

Let's dissect an example of unforgiveness: a nasty divorce. You think about the hurt, the betrayal, the disappointment, the loss. You play games with the finances, the assets, the kids. You basically lose yourself in every negative feeling the experience brings up. You may even justify its existence by thinking how you've been wronged and how your ex deserves every negative thing which results from your pain. The thing is, when you allow yourself to exist in this state, you are the victim. You are not in a place where you can summon up the courage and resources you need to go on. You are wallowing and trapped. Sometimes, we allow this pain and negativity to go on for years.

When you come to a place of forgiveness, you are in a place of acceptance. You acknowledge what has happened, learn from it and look for new and different paths. Often, you are in a state of appreciation for how you have grown as a human. The chains of victimhood are now broken, and you are free once again to become the powerful creator of your life you were meant to be.

Life can be hard, and it is definitely not fair. Acknowledge this and allow yourself to move on and expand. Holding on to unforgiveness is a block that can keep you from receiving many of the blessings life has to offer. The willingness to let the negativity go will create new opportunities for growth. The reality is, forgiveness does much more for the forgiver than it does for the forgiven. It allows the forgiver to move forward and into a better life.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Transforming Your Reality

In my haste at work last night, I put myself in a precarious position--one that could have had serious consequences if I had not caught myself and stopped it. In the past, such a scenario would have sent me into the world of panic and worry as my paranoid self wondered if I would be "found out". Today, there is nothing but calm and peace. I attribute this state of peace to some enlightened views of the world I have incorporated just this past year. These ideas have truly transformed my life into a new reality.

As I drove home from work, I did my usual review of the situation. I had to admit I was just not thinking clearly while I was trying to speed through my work. Fortunately, there was a moment of sanity where I said, "Oops...time to stop." I realized no harm done. From there I progressed to the worst case scenario routine--this one potentially getting fired. My old self would have continued to worry about getting fired. My new self thought, "Okay, you did stop once you thought about it." I even took it a step further. I thought, "So what if I were to get fired? It may feel bad at the time, but ultimately the only thing being fired means would be that I was meant to experience this then move on to something different."

My new reallity is, things may seem bad at the time, but in the end they really do work out for the greater good! Every negative experience I've ever had felt like the end of the world. What I have finally incorporated into my being is the fact that those times which felt like the end of the world were truly only new beginnings! They have been my places of highest growth and awareness. They have all brought me into new states of being, new places of power. I realized I could be thankful for the negative because even when I don't know what's going to happen initially I know it will result in something beautiful! It took a long time for this seed idea to fully blossom into a wonderful flower. Now that is has, I feel different. I feel transformed.

Our human existence is all about growth--about becoming more than we presently are. Consequently, we all have the ability to learn and change. It begins with a fresh perspective. Once we are able to consistently see the world through this new lens we react differently to it. It is this knowledge that transforms our existence. It is this knowledge that tranforms our realities.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Imperfection Makes Us...Perfect

From the time I was a small child, I've had major perfectionist issues. My school work had to be perfect. My drawings had to be perfect. I had to follow all the rules. When I fell down in any issue, I would beat myself up. This has continued until very recently and has only changed because I learned this secret:  mistakes are essential to growth.

It may sound strange, but it's true. Living a perfect life teaches you nothing except judgement. You end up living your life by some worldly standard--a man-made creation that has nothing to do with the truth that is God. In my life, it has been those times I have done something out of the ordinary that I learned better coping skills (not to mention compassion for others). Ask yourself this simple question: Have I learned more from playing by the rules or by straying from them? What has given me the most surprising results?

We choose this human life as an opportunity for expansion and growth. Attempting to be perfect will limit our success. Making mistakes facilitates our development by increasing our options. While some mistakes can be horrible, they still have the potential to teach us something. I no longer beat myself up over my mistakes. I accept who I am, flaws and all, because it is my imperfection that makes me perfect.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Power of a Smile

I recently took a job as a sales representative at a department store that emphasizes customer service and friendliness. Because it is important to smile at and talk to customers, I have had a great deal of practice smiling lately. I realized the other day how good the smiling has been for me. I left work, after smiling for hours, with a smile on my face and a light-hearted, happy feeling in my chest. It's been a long time since I've felt that good. It made me realize just how much power is in a smile.

I was very happy as a child. Sure I had the usual disappointments, but I generally had a smile on my face. From a very early age I understood the importance of giving one of my smiles to people who were not smiling. Right away they would cheer up and smile back. I was open and encouraging with them, and they would respond in kind. Doors opened easily for me. Things almost always went my way. It is only as an adult that I have come to realize my smile had a great deal to do with that.

As an adult, my own personal problems as well as the problems of the world have often weighed me down. I spent years as a single mom depressed and only minimally able to cope with life's problems. In the past year, I have been made very aware that much of that time was spent not smiling.

As I reflect on where my life has been, where my life is, and where I want my life to go, I am increasingly aware of the power of a smile. It has opened many doors and enabled me to help others. Even more important, it has had the power to heal me. It is one simple little action, but it has the power to change the world.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Missing Secret

As a huge fan of The Secret (Extended Edition) by Rhonda Byrne, I was inspired by many great ideas. Things like what you focus on becomes reality and the importance of gratitude have played key roles in my subsequent life and resulted in many positive outcomes. Still, my successes have been somewhat limited in nature and I am aware of many others who feel the same way. In my quest to find answers, I have stumbled upon one principle which was not emphasized, but has been very important in my development: the principle of connection.

The Secret has a tendency to focus on the things you can do as an individual to draw what you want into your life. When most of us see ourselves as individuals, we see ourselves as independent, separate beings. The truth is, when we are separate from each other and the Universe we have no power. There is a power that flows in and through all things. This power binds us and connects us to everything that exists and is the source of insight and inspiration. The more "plugged in" we are to this energy of connection, the more powerful we become.

Think about this: when you are open, smiling, happy, others are much more open to you because you are inviting them in. They like you and want to help you if they can. Doors that weren't previously opened are now accessible to you. You have made yourself energetically connected to them. When you open up like this to the rest of the Universe--animals, places, things--their energy is also opened up to you. The reality is, while we function in this world as individuals, we are always part of a larger whole.

The reverse is also true. When you are closed off from others and the rest of the world, it is closed to you. This is when nothing goes your way, and you are powerless. You may even become angry or depressed. There is no greater hell than the state of separateness.

The solution to making the law of attraction work for you is simple: Learn to connect to that place in your soul that is One with the Universe. Feel your Oneness, your connection. Take time every day to become famaliar with all that is present there--feelings, people, things, places, events, etc. Learn to draw strength from it. You will find insights and inspirations that were always there but never seen before. You will understand how you fit into the great plan. You will have found what is missing. You will have found yourself.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Source of Our Perspective

Years ago, I worked in a group home with emotionally disturbed children. One of the children I worked with, whom I will call Justin, was at the home because of run ins he had already had with the law at the tender age of eight. He and a gang of six-year-olds had gone around the neighborhood stealing bikes. It was a natural occurence for someone growing up poor and coming from a family where everyone else also had problems with the law.

One morning as the children were getting ready for school, I knocked on Justin's door to let him know he was not going to school right away because he was to have a meeting with his probation officer. At my announcement, the eyes of Justin's roommate, who was a year older and bigger than Justin, widened in surprise and he said, "You have a probation officer?!!!" (Most of the children there just had social workers.) Justin looked at the roommate, and in a very innocent sort of way said, "Sure. Doesn't everybody?" I had to stifle back a laugh, because Justin truly wasn't aware that most people don't have probation officers. Where he came from, everybody did.

My purpose in sharing this story is not just to amuse but to point out how the society we grow up in shapes our view of the world. We may have grown up in a society that fears and hates people from different races or cultures. We may have grown up in a society that tells us being gay is a sin and will land you in hell if you don't "reform". The problem with these societal beliefs is that they are often based on false truths and lead to separation.

We are not here to perpetuate separateness. We are here to learn how to love unconditionally. We are called to bridge the gap that separates us from our fellow human beings! Often, it is those lessons society teaches us that cause the divisions. Conflict is the result of a tainted point of view and not a reflection of truth. When in the middle of conflict, it is important to assess the situation from a more objective point of view. Learn to question yourself. Why do I believe this is wrong? Because the Bible says it's wrong and the Bible is an infallible source of truth? (Maybe this has more to do with your preacher's or family's intrepretation of the Bible.) Because this is the law, and I always follow the law? Whatever your reason, if you follow it back to its source you will discover your perspective is highly influenced by your life lessons. Your perspective may not be influenced by truth at all.

The fact of the matter is, we all have access to the truth. It lies within. There is a part of our soul that is directly connected to the Universe and all things in it. Even Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21 KJV) Time to see the source of our perspective for what it is--our life lessons. Once we understand this, we can let go of our learned perspective and embrace the truth. We become a source of wholeness and healing for the world.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Perfection of Allowing

My heart is breaking for a friend in distress. A terrible custody battle has been raging over her young granddaughter and it is not looking good for her daughter. Part of the problem stems from her daughter's troubled past. Although the daughter has been away from her former lifestyle for years the custody battle has dredged it all up, and the child's father is extremely good at keeping up appearances. They face the very real possibility that they could lose custody to a father who wants the child mainly so he doesn't have to pay child support. We have all prayed for a positive outcome, and are saddened by the thought the daughter may lose custody.

Still, as I look at the situation, there are a few things I know. The first is that our perceptions are not necessarily reality. Our experiences are colored by what we have been taught by society and what we have gleaned from our own personal experiences. This coloring may taint the way we see the truth. There are also probably elements we can't even see because our experiences and societal lessons have not taught us to look for them. I know we may not be looking at the situation the same way God looks at the situation.

Another thing I know is the more I fight against the inevitable the more the inevitable fights back. Fighting only brings more problems, never solutions. Occasionally we may be able to run away from our problems, but in the long run they tend to catch up with us again (sometimes in a slightly different form but always the same essential problem). It is only when I give up what I want and "surrender" to the inevitable that God enables me to resolve the issue.

I don't have all the answers, but I know God has a plan. There is obviously something about this situation we are missing. Maybe the granddaughter has been sent to help her father change in some way, and having custody of her will help achieve this goal. Maybe it is something else, but I know in the very depths of my soul things happen for a reason. When we have the courage to accept the plan, things fall into place. Chaos becomes order. Struggle becomes peace. When we allow things to be, we unblock the barriers which limit our growth. We allow ourselves, and others, to be perfected. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Opportunity to Love

Years ago, I attended a small Christian congregation. For the most part, it was a pretty good group of people. Still there were several members there who I always felt were just outside the group even though they were included in church activities. One was a lady who was very needy to the point of being embarressing. Another was a single mom who had never been married. Still another was a woman whose home life was so dysfunctional and chaotic she could not hide it, including a grown son serving serious time in prison. At times my heart would break as I felt some of the isolation these women experienced because of their differences.

In one particularly insightful moment, I managed to ask God an extremely relevant question. In my heartbreak, I asked God why these women were here at this church. The answer I got back was almost instantaneous. "They are here to give the other people in the congregation the opportunity to love."

I pondered this one for a while. These women had lifestyles different enough from the mainstream Christian population for them to be ostracized within that community, yet here they were continuing on as part of it. I have believed for a long time we all choose our missions in life. I realized the lives they had chosen were not about their own glory but were about helping others learn to love--one of life's greatest lessons. In my mind's eye, I understood they were not the victims of their circumstances but noble teachers who chose to dedicate their lives to helping others.

From the moment of our births, we are taught the "right" ways to behave in society. Straying from that path subjects us to the disapproval and separation of judgement. However, life is not about separation. Life is about finding what is good in others and allowing ourselves to love them regardless of our differences. The opportunity to love is all around us. Time to lay aside our differences and focus on the light within.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


In America, Thanksgiving is a day we traditionally look at our own lives and remember all those things we are thankful for. As I look at my own life, it appears much the same as it did last year. Still the changes in my life have been huge, for they have been internal changes which have shifted my perceptions on life and totally changed the ways I act in the world.

Acceptance has been one of those changes. In the past, I would look at difficult situations as catastrophes and in many instances they would overwhelm me to the point of inaction. While I can't say I am totally proactive at this point in time, I can say I am much better at assessing the crisis and remembering it is something I have called to myself because of what it can teach me. Instead of dreading the crisis, I ask, "What is it I need to learn from this?" and am able to deal with each instance a little at a time.

I have also gained a better understanding of judgement--where it comes from and why it needs to be avoided. I know how it separates us from one another and how this separation harms us through blocking energy (love) that should be flowing freely between us.

I know my life isn't perfect. As always, it is a work in progress. Still, I am appreciative of those things I have gained in the past year--the ability to cope more effectively in the world and the lessening of the blocks between myself and my fellow man. I am blessed, and for that I am truly thankful.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Silver Lining

Money is tight right now. I have to confess--it is a situation I created when I quit my job recently. Still, as the holiday season rolls around, it is a very uncomfortable place to be. I don't like scrimping and "getting by". Honestly, I don't want to be thinking about money at all, yet here I am stressing over it!

I did have a reason for quitting. I have wanted to get out of being a daycare teacher for years. The only reason I got into it in the first place was because I was getting divorced and I had three very small children who needed fulltime care. As my youngest started high school this year, I have no need for the daycare services I required years ago. I have just been teaching so long it is now part of my "comfort zone". For the past several years I have felt restless--like I need to be doing something different, something more. Then, the situation at work became intolerable for me and I knew I needed to do something different now.

As uncomfortable as the money situation is for me at present, I do know one thing. This too shall pass. Whether we see it as good or bad, life is a constant state of flux. Looking back on my life, I have always had what I needed when I needed it--somtimes just in the nick of time.

The other thing I am reminded of is the fact that my greatest understandings have come during those times when life has been most difficult. Every great tragedy has always come with a great reward. When I lost my newborn daughter, I learned how to deal with separation and how to help others cope with their own losses. When I divorced, I learned how to face life and become independent. Yes, those times were hard, but I would not be the person I am today without those experiences. My life has been immensely blessed as a result. The storm clouds of life are always present, but you can find the silver lining when you take the time to look.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spiritual Exercise

I've always had appreciation for my talents which fit into conventional society. I have a good ear for pitch and consequently sing quite well. I have a way with words and can express myself in writing and speaking. I am also good with people. My interest in them is genuine, and they are attracted to me as a result. Still, for all these talents, I have yet to find an occupation or even a hobby which fulfills my mission in life. It is only in the past month I have begun to know and appreciate those more spiritual gifts which I feel more adequately reveal my life's purpose.

I grew up in a very Christian home where "spirituality" was a big deal. I can remember my father, a lay minister, standing up in services and giving messages from God to people in the congregation. There have been times when I have felt very strongly that certain people needed to hear particular words of counsel. When I have been bold enough to follow through, people tell me it was just what they needed to hear. Looking back on my life, I realize my two sisters and even my children have similar abilities. This realization has been an amazing discovery for me.

Still, now that I have recognized this potential, I'm not exactly sure how to proceed. It has never been my intention to give guidance to people seeking answers. As I look back on my life, I realize I have a tendency to ignore most of the messages I receive because most people do not want to know. Telling what I know only upsets them. Then there is the problem that I am underconfident in my abilities because I do not intentionally use them on a consistent basis. My spiritual muscles are weak, so I have a hard time trusting them and myself.

I truly desire to help people come to a better understanding of themselves and of God. This goal--this mission--fully resonates with me. I know I need to exercise these spiritual muscles in order to more fully develop them. Talents and skills must be nutured in order to be maintained. It is more or less a question of whether I am willing to do the spiritual exercise required to help me progress on the rest of this journey. I face my fear in the hope that this spiritual exercise will help me find new pathways of purpose and understanding.   

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Change To Heart

America just went through it's voting process a few days ago. While I am personally glad there has been some shift in power, realistically I know that we've probably just exchanged old problems for new problems. Many Americans, myself included, have come to the conclusion that elections are often a choice between the lesser of two evils. One would think our modern society was capable of making decisions based on the win-win instead of the struggle for power, but this is not the case. The question becomes, "What, if anything, can we do to fix this problem?" The answer lies in a complete paradigm shift. We must learn to base decisions not on what the mind tells us is best but on the leadings of the heart.

Our minds are wonderful things. They contain the wisdom of all our experiences as well as the experiences society deems appropriate to teach to us. This knowledge helps us cope in our world, and when we follow it we are often saved from harm. The flip side of this is, the mind is also the place of fear. There are many occasions where we allow the mind to keep us from taking the actions needed for growth and change. Fear of potential consequences will hold us back and get in the way of accomplishing our goals.

Our hearts are actually our places of power. This is where we connect with Source--the power that flows in and through all things. Ironically, many people are unaware of this connection, but they still have it. Our driving passions and dreams are the results of that connection. Following those dreams can empower us. Intentionally connecting with Source magnifies this power and gives us access to wisdom beyond ourselves and our limited earthly teachings (aka our minds). This is where intuition comes from and why intuition is usually more fruitful than mind-based decisions.

Our society, as well as the individuals in it, typically makes decisions based on the understandings of the mind. We even brainstorm using the minds' constructs. While this is not always a bad thing, faulty decisions can be made because of faulty understandings that have been learned by the mind. Our decisions are only as good as the information we have access to!

When we learn to open our hearts and access the wisdom of the collective (Source),  we are made aware of new unlimited understandings. Possibilites that we were not aware of before spring up. Solutions come that benefit the whole.  

The Institute of Heartmath (http://www.heartmath.org/) is an organization "dedicated to helping people establish heart-based living and global coherence" through science and educational initiatives. They have some practical ideas for people interested in learning to live from the heart which appeal to a broad range of people. While this is not the only way to this understanding, the website does have some great information and resources.

What it all boils down to is this: the problems which face the world today are the result of society making decisions based on what the mind knows. This knowlege is often corrupted and faulty. In order to solve these problems, we need to learn to connect within to the heart and make decisions based on its wisdom. This is the place of connection, of understanding, of wholeness, of Oneness. Albert Einstein once said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." We need a change in thinking--a change to heart.


Monday, October 25, 2010

We Are Not Separate

I am struggling this morning. As I logged onto my Facebook page and read some of my friends updates, I felt a great division because of the political fighting which is currently raging in America. I have an eclectic collection of friends--very liberal to very conservative and everything in between. The funny thing is, they are all sure their way is best. There is a right and a wrong in their minds. I have to confess I am not totally immune to this way of thinking. The thing is, I should know better. In my quest for connection with Source, I have been able to experience His limitless nature. I know we are not separate from anything.

The Limitless is so hard to put into words, but I will try. Picture enless space. The essence--the energy--that is you fills this space and continues on eternally. The essence that is me fills this space. The essence of every song, every emotion, every blade of grass also fills this space. You know this because as you experience the unlimited you can also sense the presence of each individual thing. It's a mind-blowing concept when what you understand within this human existance is the limits of time and space.

The thing is, when you experience eternity, you truly begin to understand we are all One. The illusion of this lifetime is that we are separate from one another. We are not. When you fight with another, all you are really doing is fighting against yourself. This is the source of all our problems on earth. This is why every action you take here eventually returns to you. When you allow yourself to let things exist without resistence you are truly living the reality of Oneness.

Take the time to sit back and relax in your body in this present moment. See yourself in the first person with all your senses intact. Focus inside yourself to the place of your heart, where your soul lives. Sense your very soul and see its light. As you become aware of who you are, allow it to expand in all directions and connect with the Oneness. You do not need to think. Relax. It is important to feel and sense. Allow yourself to rest in this place. Take a little time to do this every day and you will become One. Let this Mind be in you.

As we begin to understand the Oneness, we will begin to see real solutions to the problems we face every day. Oneness brings health, wholeness and understanding. Throw away the illusion. We are not separate. We are One.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Presence of Money

I was one of those people who grew up learning thoughts that hinder the flow of money. "Money doesn't grow on trees" and "rich people get ahead by stepping on the little guy" were mantras I unconsciously embraced as fact. Consequently, my life hasn't exactly flowed with money. I have worked on getting rid of these ideas for years, using techniques like EFT (The EFT Manual (EFT: Emotional Freedom Techniques))and Wayne Dyer's Excuses Begone (Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits ). I have had great success using many of these ideas. Still, the effects of these beliefs have lingered and I often ask the question "What am I still clinging to that separates me from money?" Ironically, my answer lies in that specific question.

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a spiritual retreat. I was looking forward to it because I have met with this group of people before and I know them to be open vessels who crave the presence of Source in their lives. Because of this, they carry a very precious energy which I enjoy tapping into. This past weekend was no exception.

We walked into the opening service a little late, so a powerful spiritual energy hit me as I entered the room. As I sat there and allowed myself to experience this Source energy, I felt the "oneness" of everything. Everything existed in this space--from each individual on earth to their feelings to every animal and each blade of grass. I felt the connection and interconnections of all these things. As I gave myself permission to rest in this space, I was able to isolate individual items within it. The first one I was able to feel was the presence of money. Its presence was benign. It was not flashy or extravagant. It was not evil. It just existed with no pretense or presumption. This is when I understood. Money, like everything else, is a part of me. I am not separate from it. This knowledge gave me a peace about money I have never experienced before.

I continue to rest in this flow of energy where money and everything else exists, whenever I get the chance. As I get used to being in this space, it begins to be part of both my conscious mind and my subconscious one. Essentially, it all gets back to "oneness". I now know I am not separate from anything, including money. It is a part of me just as love and joy are a part of me. The money is always present, and now I know it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Raise Your Vibration Now!

It's one thing to think about improving yourself and another to actually do it. It has occurred to me that I have given the thought behind many law of attraction techniques and strategies but not many practical applications. Consequently, it is my intention to let you in on some of my personal strategies in the hope they will benefit your life!

Strategy #1: Tap into the energies around you or those you have already experienced! The most concrete example I can come up with comes in the rescue of the Chilean mine workers just a few days ago. I found it very hard to pull myself away from the coverage to do more mundane things (like cook). I have heard a number of comments from friends and family that it was the same for them. Why? The answer lies in the worldwide caring and support for those trapped men. The energy from their rescue was so high and so strong it was impossible for those seeking that energy to turn away from! The bottom line is, when you find yourself in such a strong energy vibe, you need to allow yourself to go with it. Allow the experience to feed and energize you! You can do the same with any good experience or memory. Bring into mind all those times you felt love, joy, peace, forgiveness. Let yourself live in those memories! You will soon find yourself in a better place.

Strategy #2: Get creative and participate in those activities that bring your joy and satisfaction! This can be anything--singing, skydiving, problem-solving or even sex! (Yes! I said sex!) The point is, when you do something that makes you happy it raises your vibration. It also has the added bonus of putting you in your body, where you are your most powerful.

Strategy #3: Meditate, taking time to get into your heart space. Relax, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Focus a few moments on your breathing--breathing in the positive and expelling the negative. When you are very relaxed, focus your mind on that space just behind and a little below your heart--the dwelling place of your spirit. Sense your spirit. Recognize it for the light it is. Allow your mind to just relax and not think about anything in particular. Rest in this space. Get to know it. It is your connection to Source energy. It has the power to heal you and change your life. Spend about 10 minutes a day doing this. You will be amazed by how great you feel!

The bottom line is, your energy level is your responsibility! No one else has the power to change it. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do because if you aren't feeling good you do not have the strength the accomplish your mission in life. Become the solution to the world's problems. Raise your vibration now!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Change Within

I'm always looking for answers on how to improve my life. One of the best things I have done for myself is to become a member of the Masterworks Healing membership site (http://www.masterworkshealing.com/), which is run by healer and entrepenuer Jennifer McLean. The perspectives I've gained from listening to the work of Jennifer and the other contributors on the site have raised my energy frequency to a whole new level. Gone are my days of wallowing in depression. My outlook has changed so much in positive ways I feel like a new person.

The most profound shift to hit recently was my understanding of how the mind differs from the heart. The mind is associated mainly with the teachings we have learned from being in the world. It is designed for protection and can be full of biases and prejudices which separate us from our fellow humans. The heart, on the other hand, is what connects us to the whole of humanity and the Universe. It's reach is limitless, and it is filled with the knowledge of all truth. The world is full of people (myself included) who make decisions based on the mind instead of the heart. It's no wonder that Jesus challenged his followers to "become like little children". Children have not had time to learn the lessons of the world and as such live naturally from their hearts! Our lives here on earth are not about separation but about connection.

The world has become a challenging place lately, but when I look at it now it does not concern me as much as it used to. I have become committed to learning what it means to live from my heart. As I go down this path, I have discovered many others who are also coming to this new understanding. Yes, circumstances in the world are getting more challenging. They will probably become more so as people continue to live from their minds and not their hearts. The good news is, everybody has a breaking point. When it gets stressful enough, people are willing to make the changes they need to impact the world in more positive ways. This is where growth comes from!

As I continue on down this path of the heart, I am comforted by the knowledge that everything, both good and bad, truly does work toward the good. Positive change is coming--a whole paradigm shift from mind to heart. It is this change within that will change the world.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Universal Connection

As I write this, I am still riding high on the wave of emotion surrounding the rescue of the Chilean miners from the depths of the earth. The anticipation--the expectation--were palpable as each individual miner was brought up. My body was inundated by thankfulness each time a person came to the surface to be united with their loved ones. As I thought about the extraordinary cooperation it took to bring those men back to the surface, I realized just how connected we truly are. Only the Divine can change hearts enough to let the results come off without a hitch. Some of the miners were even able to articulate it as they talked about the presence of God during the crisis.

Maybe I'm an eternal optimist, but I really believe this feeling is meant to be a constant as opposed to a fleeting moment. Many religions teach such a concept. In eastern traditions, it is called nirvana. Christianity calls it the kingdom of God on earth. Whatever semantics you use, it can happen. The incident in Chile gives us a glimpse of the possibilities!

It's really a bit of a circle. When people love and are concerned about their fellow man, they will do everything in their power to help. When people help and that help is responded to, love flows to their fellow man and back again. That is the power of love. That is the universal connection that flows in and through all things. That is our Divine connection.  Love is the path--the path to perfection. May we be blessed as we strive to stay on the path and increase that connection.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Joy of Falling

One of the greatest fears in my life is the fear of falling. The fear has been here ever since I can remember--from the time I was quite small. My earliest memory of this fear revolves around the day my older sister literally dragged me to school because I was too afraid to walk on the icy hills that surrounded my Ohio home. I was five. I've never been terribly interested in activities like skiing or skating because of this fear. As an adult, I don't dwell on the fear, but the fear is there--just under the surface.

Yesterday as I walked beside a swiftly moving creek, I had a glimpse into something I had never noticed before. I am a very auditory person, so I like listening to the sound of water as it flows by. What I noticed was this: in those places where the water is level, there is next to no sound. It is only in those places where the elevation changes--where the water falls--that the sound of running water occurs. The joy and peace of that sound occurs only in the process of falling!

Falling is a scary proposition. You are never sure exactly what will happen when you fall. You could get lucky and land in a soft snowbank, or you might get dashed on the rocks below. Still, as in everything, there can be joy in the process. The water knows this as it tumbles down the rocks. It soothes with its song. There is joy in everything, if we only take the time to listen and appreciate the beauty we find along the way.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Importance of Passion

The term "finding your passion" is one of the catchphrases which figures prominently in law of attraction circles. Empowerment coaches such as Janet and Chris Attwood (The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose) and Chris Widener (The Angel Inside: Michelangelo's Secrets for Following Your Passion and Finding the Work You Love) have explained in great detail the concept of finding your passion in order to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. Indeed, it is everyone's dream to live such joy and passion every day. Still, what is it about passion that makes it important? Why is passion necessary to attract the life of your dreams? The answer lies in passion's ability to help you be present in your body and live from your heart.

Reflect on those times in your life when you have felt the most passionate. Maybe it was when you allowed yourself to be creative and painted a masterpiece, or maybe it had to do with your elation at being able to solve a complex problem in your job. Regardless, ask yourself a few key questions. How did it feel? Did it make me want to continue doing it? Where was my attention--my focus? Did I want to be doing anything else, be anywhere else?

My guess is (based on my own personal experience) that you felt alive and empowered. The joy it brought to you made you want to take those actions again and again. You did not want to be anywhere else in the world except where you were. In those moments of passion, you were totally present--fully focused in your body. Your mind and heart were engaged. You were in a place of power! At that precise moment, you were truly a creator of your universe.

Following your passion is important because doing so enables you to become your highest self. It is the place of flow and abundance and empowerment. When you let passion be your guide, your life magically falls into place. Don't underestimate passion. It has the power to transform your life.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jumping In the Deep End

I've done it this time. I jumped in the deep end not knowing if I could actually swim. As a matter of fact, all former indications would seem to signal no, and I jumped in anyway. This is the way of the heart. The mind signals "Danger! Warning! Don't Go There!" based on previous learning experiences. The heart, on the other hand, knows what it wants, and it is often in direct opposition to what the mind wants. The struggle between the two causes anxiety and confusion in those it affects. Jumping in the deep end is usually a scary proposition.

Recently, my high stress, low pay job being a daycare teacher became too much for me to handle anymore, so I quit. I was so scared to do it, knowing that it would be difficult to find any job in a different field in this poor ecomony. Still, I knew if I continued on that path it would just be more of the same. It would kill me eventually--my spirit if not my body.

I began to search inside myself for answers, knowing connecting within is the key to connecting to Source. As I opened my heart, my dreams and passions took hold. I have always wanted to be in business for myself. I have always wanted to be a motivational speaker. In the past, I have toyed with the concept of direct sales, believing strongly you can earn a livable income if you apply yourself. It also has elements of both my dreams. I found a great company selling all natural foods that lined up with my core values a few years back. My heart shouted, "Now is the time to truly commit!" My mind on the other hand was once again filled with doubts, ranging from, "You've never been able to do this before", to ,"You don't deserve to succeed." Having worked to release much of this negativity in the past year, I decided to go with my heart. 

You stand at the top looking down at the water. It's a long way down. The pool is a little cloudy at the deep end. You're not sure if there are rocks below the surface that could injure you. Still, you are sure it can be done. You may even be aware of other people who have done it before you with great success. With determination, you make the decision to take the plunge. The fall is a little out-of-control, but there is also a rush of excitement as you leave the security of the rock behind. You splash in the water, start to sink, and flail about until you find the exact movement that brings you back to the surface. Treading water can initially be hard, but in the end you become stronger. You may even learn to float. At this point you realize: the water is is cool and comfortable and a good place to be. Jumping in the deep end is a funny thing. The only real scary part about it is contemplating the actual leap.

If your heart tells you to do something, don't think. You may talk yourself out of it. Just jump. Once you get your bearings, the water below is cool and comfortable.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It Isn't About You!

Part of this human experience is to live in the world, and in this world we get hurt. Often this hurt stems from something another person does--an unkind word, a lie, a betrayal, etc. Conflict arises when we take offense to these hurts, but does it have to? Can we avoid this conflict? I believe we can. Avoiding conflict is as simple as being mindful of your focus. All you need to remember is that it isn't about you!

This point was made abundantly clear while listening to Jennifer McLean's Body Dialoging session from Sept. 11th on her Masterworks Healing membership site. (http://www.masterworkshealing.com/) It began with a prayer for the 9/11 disaster and what this ordeal taught us on a global level and continued on to show what we can learn from individual conflict. People who commit painful actions are acting from a need within themselves which cries out for acknowledgement. Your victimhood lies in the fact you were around when that pain was expressed! Instead of automatically assuming the expression of pain was to hurt you, you are free to see the pain for what it is: their pain! It isn't about you! When you see their pain for what it is, it ceases to hurt you! Acknowledge that part of their human experience and remember that underneath the pain is a being of love and light.

As we learn to interact and cope in the world, it is easy to get hurt by the things others do. Just remember: their actions are only a reflection of how they have learned to cope in the world. Acknowledge their pain, but go beyond the tension to see the light within. The road to peace and understanding shows up when your focus is on others. It isn't about you!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Difference Between the Heart and Mind

For months I have heard abundance experts talk about how important it is to be present in your body and allow yourself to act through your heart in order to live in "flow". While I have been heeding this advice and making a conscious decision to be present and act from my heart, I found I was still missing pieces to the puzzle. Most of my decisions are based on my rational thought--my mind. Today, I believe I have found a missing piece connecting another large portion of the whole.

I took the time to listen to a Body Dialoging session with Jennifer McLean on her Masterworks Healing membership site (http://www.masterworkshealing.com/) from this past Saturday, which just happened to be 9/11. The call was all about being present in your body and being in flow, but this time it was different. As I allowed myself to participate and went from being present in my body to being outside it and back again, I finally grasped what I had not been able to before. When you are in your rational mind, the mind throws barriers in your path in an act of self-preservation. These barriers are things like the prejudices we are taught or the negative perceptions we have about ourselves or others.  This is where your life's problems come from. This is where disease comes from. This is the seat of conflict. My "A-hah" moment came when I understood that all the problems in my life are outside of me!  I had always believed the turmoil was inside of me. Consequently, I would try to "escape" by using my imagination to leave my body, but in reality my "escape" was the place where conflict lives! At those times during the session when I was present in my body and living in my heart, there were no barriers, there was no conflict--only solutions, only peace, only love. It was powerful!

With this new understanding, I feel confident I can overcome the pitfalls in my life as I learn to stay present in my body and live from my heart. I know my heart is the source of my love, my peace, and my flow. My mind is what the world has taught me. I follow the path of least resistance.   

Friday, September 10, 2010

From Fear to Authenticity

I have walked this same path so many times I have lost count. I dream of a life much bigger than the one I currently live, yet each time I attempt to get there fear seems to take over and I find myself back in the same old rut. Every time I fall back into this rut, I fall back into a deeper state of depression, knowing that out there somewhere is the life I should be living. My fear keeps me from becoming the person I was meant to be--my authentic self.

This point was driven home this morning while listening to another of Jennifer McLean's wonderful Healing With the Masters interviews (to listen to this resource for FREE go to http://www.healingwiththemasters.com/ and sign up!). Sonia Choquette(Traveling at the Speed of Love), an insightful intuition teacher, talked about the battle between our earthbound egos and our spiritbound authentic selves. The earthbound ego places limits on the choices we make and consequently keeps our authentic selves boxed up if we let our egos rule us. Our egos tell us things like, "you don't deserve it" or "it's just not practical". If we believe these things, we don't listen to our dreams. Our dreams are what the authentic self uses to guide us to the lives we were meant to live.

I have prayed for months for help in finding my authentic self and living my dreams. As usual, I am stubborn and not listening and have finally been brought to a state containing enough pain that I felt I had no option but to quit the life my ego has been telling me to live! Let me explain: my authentic self has told me for years that I need to work for myself in order to achieve the life I want. Still, I continue to make a sure buck working a low paying, high stress job. Last week, between the stresses of the job and stresses at home, my boss suggested I take a week off to get myself together. I was upset at first, but then I realized that this was indeed my time to assess my current situation. My dream job has the following elements: time to think, plan, study and grow and involves teaching others how to evolve themselves. My current job will never get me there! Also, I know my current job will only bring me more stress and trouble, and that is not a state I wish to continue in. As a result, I quit the "sure money" in order to pursue something more in line with my dreams.

I have an old high school friend I admire greatly--probably because he is so authentic. He has lived a unique, exciting and successful life in many ways, and it is precisely because he is not afraid to listen to his dreams and does not let his ego limit him. He makes mistakes, but he learns from them and goes on. Intuitively, he knows that mistakes are important for growth.

I'd like to say I am currently on my way to living the life of my dreams. The battle now, as it has always been, is which part of myself to listen to--fear or authenticity. As I learn to tune out the fear and follow my dreams, my purpose in life becomes fulfilled.  

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Taking Responsibility!

     I am so tired of the "evil wealthy" rhetoric! It is obviously true that there are large wealth disparities in the US. Some people make millions, even billions, of dollars every year while others can't get by without government assistance. The perception is often that these wealthy people have become wealthy stepping on the backs of the poor, but is this really the case? My thought is that everyone needs to take responsibility for what IS.
     In the political arena, attention is often called the the huge salaries of CEO's of major corporations. Yes, they do make more money than the person who cleans their office. Yes, they do make more money than Joe the Plumber. Yes, they do make more money than 99% of the population! Is it fair? Maybe not, but how did it happen? Did they necessarily step on the little people to get ahead? Who knows for sure? The fact of the matter is, stockholders in the company, looking to make money on their investments, decided this person was worth their incredible salary to help them make more money. The CEO was able to convince those same stockholders that he/she would be able to take that company in a positive direction.
     Let's look at something similar but more acceptable to many Americans--athlete salaries. In the big leagues, most are paid hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year to play their game. They also make more money than the vast majority of Americans, but for some reason this is acceptable. The irony here is that many of them get caught in blatantly illegal activies and are criminally prosecuted for it. These people have all had to fight and claw their way to the top in such competive fields, some resort to the use of illegal steroids to do it. Still, becoming a top athlete is something many people aspire to. Do these athletes deserve their huge salaries? The fact of the matter is, these top athletes are what draw fans (and their money) so their salaries are justified. In other words, WE are the reason these athletes draw those incredible salaries.
     What is the difference between the CEO and the athlete? Nothing. Both are there to make money for the people they work for. They draw the ability to make money from who? Us! The bottom line is, they make money for their companies because of the value WE place on what they do. We may not be responsible for the exact dollar amount, but our attitudes and preferences definitely make us responsible for the end product.
     The next time you decide to complain about the disparity in American salaries, maybe you ought to look to those truly responsible. The responsibility lies with each one of us. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Bus Comes Every Day!

     In our often fast-paced world, it is easy to get lost in the madness. Work, school, meetings, and chores meld into one great big to-do list. There is not enough time in the day to accomplish all the things we are "supposed" to do. At the same time, the drudgery and monotony of life seems to spin out of control as we go through the routine of our lives. Just when I think this is the way my life was meant to be, I get a dose of reality as I look at my life through the eyes of the very young children I work with.
     At present, I am a preschool teacher with a class of two-year-olds. It is a high energy, sometimes stressful job that requires a lot of patience and stamina (not to mention a whole lot of stubbornness). One of the best things about the job, however, is the fact that I get to re-experience aspects of life that usually get taken for granted.
     For a two-year-old, the world is still a new, exciting place. It is a chance to observe, experience and learn. Experiments are common. What will happen when I smack my hand down in the milk I just spilled on the table? Where will the car land if I roll it off the table? You get the idea.
     One of the things that cracks me up is the coming of the school bus. When school is in session, the bus comes through the parking lot every day to drop off the elementary school children who need childcare while their parents are still working. Most afternoons, my little class is outside on the playground when this happens, and our playground is right next to the parking lot. Consequently, we see the bus pull through every day. You would think it would be old news after a while of seeing this day in and day out, but not to two-year-olds. Every day they hear the grind of the school bus' gears and make a mad dash for the fence as the bus pulls through, shouts of "Bus! Bus!", filling the air. Every day they wave and cheer for the bus and its driver. It's the same drudgery every day, but to a two-year-old it is a new, exciting experience every time.
     As I reflect on this, I come to one fateful conclusion. In our "wisdom" we have a tendency to take the wonders of our lives for granted. We cease to find joy and fulfillment in the little things because we have become bored by and caught up in the routine. The fact of the matter is, boredom is a choice. We can choose every day to see the world as a wonderous opportunity, or we can choose to be bored by the sameness of the routine. Which will you choose? After all, the bus comes every day! 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Forgive Yourself!

Having grown up in a very religious home, I was often bombarded with the idea that, because of my humanity, I was prone to mistakes. This idea was reinforced by my observations of the harm caused to others by my actions or inactions. Consequently, I have struggled with feelings of guilt and unworthiness most of my life. These feelings have been a huge source of blocked energy in my life, keeping me from enjoying those things in life I truly deserve--things we all deserve. As I reassess my life, several things become abundantly clear.

First, mistakes are really good things! While it is true they can carry negative and even harmful effects, mistakes can be our best teachers. Our spiritual goal is to wake up, recognize the negativity, and correct our actions. All mistakes are meant to lead to our spiritual growth, and spiritual growth is what we come to earth to do! Yes! We are prone to make mistakes, and that's a GOOD thing!

Second, there is no cause and effect between our imperfection and what we deserve in life. Look at the world around you. Some of the most loving and giving people I know have nothing but problems, and some of the meanest people around are very outwardly successful. Do those loving souls deserve problems? Do those mean people deserve success? Life is not fair. It could be fair, but often our feelings of guilt and unworthiness get in the way of the abundance we could have.

The bottom line is, we need to embrace our imperfection as a way of life. Feelings of guilt and unworthiness serve no worthwhile purpose and can actually hinder those positive activities we came to earth to participate in. Learn to let go and forgive yourself! Your effectiveness on earth depends upon it!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Mirror

There is a mirror inside myself
I fear to look at,
For it reflects my very soul.

Memory holds the bitterness of my
Many mistakes--
Mistakes I know
Must darken my spirit and
Make it more hideous with each passing day.

Yet, when I find the strength and courage
To gaze into the mirror’s depths,
It is not the monster I see.

I see the white light of perfection
Made even more beautiful
By the problems and mistakes
Which occur every day.

Mistakes that teach.
Mistakes that perfect.
Mistakes that bring out beauty
Which never before existed.

There is no monster.
It is fear that hides the truth
Of who I am.

I acknowledge this reflection of light
And embrace my power.

--Cindy Shippy Evans

Friday, June 4, 2010

Take Time For Joy!

     In my seemingly endless quest for meaning and purpose, I find myself stuck. Stressers from many different areas in life attack from all sides, making my search feel even more critical (and ironically adding even more stress!). Consequently, I am once again caught in a trap of my own design. As I search for signposts in my latest crossroads, several questions pop up. What is my passion? Where is the fun? What is my joy?
     I had the privilege of talking to a gifted intuitive couselor, Susann Taylor Shier (http://www.soulmastery.net/), a few nights ago on a teleconference call. She "reads" people on a soul level and gives insightful suggestions to help them on the right path. After explaining how I was stuck, Susann gently pointed out how little time I take for myself. I have been so focused on finding my purpose in life and saving the world I have forgotten that I am also here to experience joy. People who are passionate and joyful create an abundant life! I am stuck because I am not seeking out those activities that bring ME joy!
     Low self esteem definitely plays a role in this process. Somehow, I have internalized the idea that I have to do for others to be worthy of the good things in life--like I don't deserve blessings if I am not constantly giving to others. The fact of the matter is, a person who is filled with joy overflows naturally to the world around them! My ideology has all been backwards! You cannot give what you do not have!
     Susann's suggestion to me was to find those activities that allow me to have fun. She and Jennifer McLean (http://www.masterworkshealing.com/), the host of the call, tuned into my love of music and suggested that may be one avenue to explore. As I thought about it more today, I realized writing was also something I really love to do to express myself (hence the blog post). In addition, I am ready to pick my pen and paper back up to work on a series of children's book I got the idea for well over a year ago.
     Joy is definitely missing from my life right now. My sense of responsibility coupled with low self esteem has brought me to a place of immobility. Fortunately the path to passion and joy has been revealed! Time to take the first step.  

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

When All Is Stripped Away

     Life never turns out exactly how you plan it. In fact, my life has strayed so far from my original ideals I scarcely recognize it at times. I never dreamed I would find myself divorced. I never imagined I would lose a newborn to an illness. I never contemplated narrowly escaping from a cult whose members finally ended up in prison. Life has presented me with some interesting and unique obstacles, and yet when it is all said and done I am not convinced I would do it differently.
     My current challenge involves parenting. My oldest son is within weeks of graduating from high school. He is smart and a great soccer player, yet with all his talents his grades are mediocre and he even dropped out of soccer this year. I don't believe in pushing my children into a life that will make them unhappy, so here I am struggling with decisions I am afraid he will regret one day. In my original parenting dreams, my children are all top students with at least one blazing talent in some non-academic area. Ah! the reality!
     I listened to a wonderful interview on Jennifer McLean's Healing With the Masters teleseminar series (http://www.healingwiththemasters.com/) this evening with Neale Donald Walsh, author of the Conversations With God series. During the interview, Neale spent some time talking about humility and described some of his experience as a homeless man. As the life he had known was totally stripped away, the person he truly was came through. He had been defined by the world's standards. Becoming homeless revealed that light that Neale is.
     As I look at my life, I realize my challenges have been some of my greatest teachers. My life may not measure up to the world's standards as being wonderful and grand. Still, when situations come along that make me challenge those beliefs--when all has been stripped away, I do not see myself as lacking. I am able to see who I really am, and that makes all the difference.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Hear the Voice of the Trees

I hear the voice of the trees--
They call to me and speak my name.

Come! Sit in my shade.
Lean against my strong trunk.
Feel the energy that flows to me from Mother Earth--
From my roots buried deep in the rich soil
To the veins running through my body
To the tips of my very branches and leaves.
Feel the power that flows as the Sun
Warms my leaves
And courses through my body
Back to the fertile ground.
I am alive!
Allow me to imbue you with that life.
That renewal.
That connection.

The birds and animals and insects
All understand my great power.
They feed on me
And come to me for shelter and protection.
They draw strength from that abundant energy source
Which is life itself.
Draw from my strength
And I will fill you with my peace.

As I listen to the voice of the trees
I am drawn to the promise they offer.
I hear
And I come.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Count It All Joy!

     I have done much internal work in the past several years in an attempt to elevate my life to a new level. There have been many lessons learned along the way--mostly in small, baby-sized steps. Today, I can say the lesson learned is HUGE, for I have learned the secret to dealing with all the emotional ups and downs of my life. Even more important is the knowledge that I can count it all joy!
     Yesterday, I had a little extra quiet time to work on some of my issues. The key question I asked was how do I identify the issue or issues that are the root (or core) of my problem. I have struggled with the concept for quite some time. To help, I was listening to one of my favorite EFT practicioners, Carol Look, on a free resource she hosts with Rick Wilkes called Talk Tap Radio (http://www.talktapradio.com/). More specifically, I listened to a podcast called "What Questions Can Lead Me to My Core Issues?" I did some EFT work in the process and came to a very interesting conclusion. The issue that has held me back most in my life are the emotions surrounding my experience with divorce.
     People have told me for YEARS that I am still angry with my ex-husband and I need to forgive him and let it go so I can move on. I honestly thought I had done that. I have an amicable relationship with him and am happy with the status quo. What I didn't fully appreciate until yesterday was that I had not ever truly experienced the emotions the whole experience has produced. I merely suppressed those emotions. That is why they are still there causing problems and creating barriers to the life I truly want to live!
     I took the opportunity to write my ex a letter (which I will never send) outlining the pain and anger the experience has caused me. My plan is to read over that letter and allow myself to fully experience those emotions. There is no need to do anything with them. They are there just to experience. Once I have allowed myself those feelings, I should be able to let them go.
     We truly are spiritual beings having a human experience. The emotions we feel on earth enable us to expand and grow. Pain and suffering serve us by allowing us to see beyond ourselves. As such, our problems are not without compensation. For that reason, instead of judging a situation as "bad" realize it is there to help you experience your human-ness. Count it all joy!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Authentic Self

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.  ---Teilhard de Chardin
Last night was a bad night. We came home from watching the middle school play, which my youngest son had participated in, and almost immediately my daughter and oldest son began a huge fight. For most people, sibling fights are not a big deal. I had plenty with my sisters when I was growing up. Still, this was not a normal fight. My daughter has only recently been diagnosed with a "mood disorder". We have had to call the police to help us with her because she gets into these rages where there is no rational thought. She has been like this her whole life. When she was little, I could physically stop her. Now she is 16 and full grown. At this point in time, her brothers have gotten so tired of her verbal and physical abuse they now occassionally snap. Last night was one of those nights.
I struggled all night with the thought that I have brought all this on myself and that maybe I could have prevented the behaviors occurring with my daughter now if I had done something differently. After all, I have professional experience working with emotionally disturbed children. At this point, the abuse has worn me down to where I lose my own temper sometimes. I even find myself turning this anger inward, which leads to my depression. 
Fortunately, I remembered one very important thing this morning. I am a spiritual being having a human experience. Maybe I did bring about the circumstances that led to all this conflict in my life, but that's okay. I am here to learn, to grow. So I chose to have what Jennifer McLean (http://www.healingwiththemasters.com/, http://www.masterworkshealing.com/) calls a "level 10 experience". This means I have chosen to deal with an issue that will provide me with tremendous growth because of the challenges the experience presents. 
The world would look at this situation and say, "She must be a terrible parent with very poor coping skills." My authentic self sees this situation as one full of growth opportunties for both myself and my family. I am learning to overcome. I am learning to accept. I am learning to act instead of react. I am a work-in-progress. I am truly blessed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Importance of Living In the Now

     As spiritual beings going through this human experience, there are times we find ourselves contemplating both our pasts and our futures. Sometimes the thoughts are pleasant, like memories of being part of a traveling chorus or dreams of becoming a doctor. At other times, these thoughts can bog us down with regrets from the past or fears for the future. The past and the future are not good or bad in and of themselves. They truly only present problems when we spend too much time dwelling on them. It is by living in the present--in the now--that we experience the fullness and abundance life has to offer.
     Last night, I had the privilege of talking with a gifted healer named Mary A. Hall through Jennifer McLean's Masterworks Healing membership site (http://www.masterworkshealing.com/). As I began describing some of my frustration with my life, Mary tuned in to my very strong feeling of disconnect. The bottom line was, I needed to recconnect with my spirit by focusing inside myself and being present in the moment. This would lead me to the answers I was searching for. The truth in what Mary said spoke volumes to me, and I made the conscious decision to follow through.
     Today I made an effort to focus on being present in my body. Periodically I would say to myself, "I am here now." At these times, I would note my physical location as well as my feelings and energy levels. I began to realize I had many things to be thankful for. For example, while chasing after two year olds all day may be physically taxing, it not only keeps me active but it fills me up energetically. I realized my 5 year old car runs well and gets me where I need to be. I was comforted to know where my teenage children were. I felt the love and support my husband provides for me. Throughtout the course of the day I was able to note just how good things were in that moment. I felt a happiness and contentment I have not felt for a long time. I also began to realize how little I have been in my body lately. My energy body--my spiritual self--is very often in the future or past. This was the extreme disconnect I had been feeling! I could feel my mind expand as I embraced this new truth.
     In the now, everything is good. I don't beat myself up over things I should have done in the past. I don't worry about potential problems of the future. I have everything I need in that precise moment. I am alive. I am at peace. I am happy. I am whole.
     I used to think I would achieve the life of my dreams through imagining a better future. Today I know the life of my dreams is already here. It's in the now.   

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quiet Time

     Often in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it is easy to forget how important it is to take a few quiet moments for yourself. Sometimes it is the circumstances of our lives that cause us to forget. At other times, we just don't make enough time for ourselves because we believe there is so much more we "have to do". Within the past few days of trying to carry on my "normal" life and deal with extraordinary problems, this simple truth has hit home with me as I struggle to fill myself up once again. I am convinced those times in our lives that feel slow--where we don't feel we are accomplishing anything--are truly important to our overall mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. We need to remember this and learn to appreciate this "down time".
     I went to work Monday on three hours of sleep after spending most of the night in the ER with my daughter. When I got home, I made dinner for the family and got some catch-up sleep (although a restless sleep). Tuesday I had to leave work early because I had to take my middle school son to the high school to sign up for his high school classes for next year. I quickly made dinner upon arriving home and drove to the hospital to see my daughter for visiting time. Wednesday, I went back to work and had to leave early again to go back to the hospital for a family counseling session. Fortunately, my daughter responded well to treatment and I was able to bring her home after the session  (no more hospital visits this week!). I have a few visits scheduled for her within the next couple of weeks, but today I do have some quiet time which I plan to take full advantage of.
     My plan is to spend a little time meditating, listening to music and trying to get in touch with God in me. I will probably listen to one of my favorite internet gurus, Jennifer McLean, on her MasterWorks Healing website (www.masterworkshealing.com/members). This has helped me through some of my worst depression in the past. I may do a little reading (one of my favorite pasttimes). I have found these things work for me. I appreciate the fact they are accessible and enable my body, mind and heart to heal.
     The important thing is, I know how critical it is for me to take this time for myself. It is not time I spend being lazy but time I deserve to replenish my soul. We all need (and deserve) this. Don't make the mistake of regretting this down time because you should be doing something more constructive and productive. Filling yourself up after the stresses of your life is a necessary and useful part of your development. Enjoy and relish those moments. It won't be long before you find yourself re-emerging into your own busy world with the strength to get through all the challenges life throws your way.   

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Perspective That Changes Everything

     For years I have believed things happen for a reason--that life is more than just a series of random events. Problems help us learn, grow and become stronger people. Still, through all the many lessons I've learned, I have a tendency to let negative experiences challenge my mental/emotional well-being. The past few months have been months of profound change and growth for me. If I were to define what has happened, I would have to say my perspective has changed in major ways. I still believe things happen for a reason. I just now understand that everything in my life--both the good and the bad--is there because of my thoughts and desires. The negative experiences show up to teach me lessons I need to learn. This perspective has moved me from powerless to powerful as I ask myself what this experience is here to teach me and move to deal with this situation head on.
     I spent many depressed years as a single parent. Even though I love and enjoy my children very much, making all major decisions and being responsible for four people can get pretty overwhelming at times. While my second marriage gave me additional strength, it was also the time my children experienced the teen years--not an easy time for a parent.
     My daughter has given me an especially rough time. Besides her ADHD, she has struggled with her own depression and poor choices in friends. At times, the arguing and fighting have been fierce, leaving me with overwhelming depression. The whole situation has made my entire household tense.
     About a month ago, I began looking at these problems from this new perspective. I thought, "I brought these problems in. What am I supposed to learn from them?" As soon as I asked the question, solutions began to show up! My mind was flooded with possibilities of things I could try to deal with the situation. Instead of the victimization of the past, I now held the keys to overcome!
     Last night, my daughter began a fight with one of her brothers that was about the become physical. As I moved to stop the situation from escalating, I realized I felt a strange sense of calm that was not present a month ago when I dealt with similar situations. I reacted more calmly than I ever had before, and for the first time I was able to convince my daughter to back down! What a difference! What power!
     My coping skills have greatly increased this month. Whenever I get feelings that make me sad, angry or nervous, I use this question ("What is this supposed to teach me?") to begin to develop ways to cope. This perspective has taken me from sitting on the bench to being a full player in the game of my life. It is the perspective that changes everything, and I will never be the same.